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Jeopardy! auditions for College Championship

The name Rasputin means ?debauched one.? Rasputin?s real name was Grigory Efimovich Novykh. Major league baseball bats are made of ash. The first portable calculator placed for sale by Texas Instruments, in 1972, weighed 2.5 pounds and cost $150. Assuming Rudolph is in front, there are 40,320 ways to arrange the other eight reindeer. No one knows where Mozart is buried.
Students preparing to display such knowledge gathered outside Rangos Ballroom on Wednesday. At 3:30 pm, the doors opened and the students entered, slid into seats at tables, and took a 10-question fill-in-the-blank test with trademark blue Jeopardy! pens.
It takes light eight and a half minutes to travel from the Sun to the Earth, but the Jeopardy! potentials were given up to 10 minutes to contemplate the answers to questions on topics such as movies, ancient texts, currency, and politics.
?The questions were fair,? said Social Decision Sciences sophomore Alison Lauer, ?because they were the same caliber as [the ones] on the show.? Contestants handed in their pink or yellow test papers and were then told whether they passed.
Approximately 10 percent of students who took the pre-test moved on to the Round Two: a 50-question exam, which was given later in Doherty Hall.
Rebecca Erbstein, a Jeopardy! team member, explained that the first 1000 people were guaranteed participation in the search for the next 2004 College Champion; however, ?90 ? 95 percent of the time, we turn students away because we can?t see everybody.? According to Erbstein, all of Wednesday?s contestants were full-time undergraduates without a previous degree, and are eligible to compete for the eventual $100,000 grand prize.
Gererdo Laperal, an H&SS first-year, said that he would use the money to ?fly [his residence] floor to Vegas.?
In contrast, Daron Colflesh, a sophomore chemical engineering major, would designate her winnings to ?pay off loans.?
Math and economics first-year John Scarfutti, who was among those who met with success, noted that the first round had ?pretty easy questions.?
Sophomore computer science major Rachael Bennett attributed her initial victory to her grandmother, who ?got me into Jeopardy! when I was little.?
According to Tony Pandolfo, one of the judges, those who do not watch the game show face a disadvantage during tryouts because they are not used to waiting for the cue line and responding interrogatively.
Competitors who complete the trivia to Round Three are shown an instructional DVD to level the playing field before the on-site Jeopardy! simulation. True to precedent, three students battle against each other by trying to accumulate the greatest amount of money, using strategy, and manipulating the ?Daily Doubles.? However, unlike the television program, the winner of the search is not the one with the most brains, but with the most ?energy,? the one who, ?moves the game along and is really into competing,? emphasized Pandolfo.
Other important factors are the age of the contestant and the location of the university.
Jeopardy! typically gleans students from regional schools and then tapes the show in a ?neutral location,? said Jimmy McGuire, one of the two Clue Crew representatives running the event. When asked whether a rapid 10-question test could accurately expose the intelligence of a student, McGuire replied that Jeopardy! uses ?the best system in operation? because the eclectic categories cater to the well-rounded individual.
Junior ECE major Shomari Smith agreed, saying that this way a certain major is not automatically advantaged over another. About 15 percent of attempts answer seven or more questions correctly.

On Sunday, junior ECE major Elliott Fleming was selected to go on to the Jeopardy! College Championship. ?I?m just happy to have the opportunity to represent Carnegie Mellon in a national event,? Fleming said.